One week of training at my new job at Starbucks, and my eyes have already been opened to the ever-widening scope of coffee and espresso beverages. And to think all this time I’ve stuck so loyally with my hazelnut latte (occasionally with soy, occasionally with caramel) that I have thus far missed out in the beautiful artistry of the Caramel Macchiato, the Caramel Spice, the Chai Tea Latte, the Cappuccino.
Oh, no, my mistake. For the cappuccino is only artistic in its fine-pointed technicality. It is, in my experience thus far, the most difficult of espresso beverages to create.
The master of the cappuccino is, in essence, a master of timing. Within 10-15 seconds of being “pulled,” meaning poured, a shot of espresso must be combined with another substance (syrup, milk, etc) or it becomes rancid and sour. Likewise, within 20 seconds, steamed milk begins to separate, foam from milk. In some drinks, this is ideal and intended. But not the cappuccino.
The shot must be pulled while the milk must be steamed at precisely correlating times otherwise the espresso goes bad or, more likely, the foam and milk separate, leaving you forlorn with, not a cappuccino, but a caffe latte.
The cappuccino is an elusive enemy. A finicky flirt. Like an exotic but high-maintenance date.
And in reality, the cappuccino is made in precisely the same way that one would make a cafe latte except what you’re essentially doing with a cappuccino is scooping out one-third of your latte and replacing it with foam. So if you fail to brew a proper cappuccino, what you usually end up with is a latte. I don’t really see how this is a problem. Order a latte, and it’s like you’re getting a cappuccino with 1/3 of the cup extra coffee! And you don’t have to suffer through mouthfuls of foam to get to it.
Not to be a pessimist, of course. I look at the cappuccino glass not as half-empty, but as half-full. I just also happen to look at the latte glass as full all the way, all the way to the top.